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Review: Paper: An Elegy by Ian Sansom

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Paper: An Elegy
by Ian Sansom

Paper is everywhere. It’s not just the books we read or the post-its we scribble and stick to the edge of our computer monitors. It’s the wrapper of a cigarette. It’s the bills we use to buy our groceries. It’s the endless pieces of junk mail that appear in our mailboxes every day. Paper has shaped how we package goods, spread information, and even how we think and express ourselves. But paper is disposable and vulnerable to the elements, and as technology moves forward it seems likely that paper will become outmoded and unnecessary. In Paper: An Elegy, Ian Sansom explores the many ways that we have become dependent on paper, and why it will never disappear completely.

Ian Sansom describes this book as a paper “museum”, covering a little bit of everything. There’s a chapter that describes the many various methods of manufacturing paper, and another that discusses the use of paper in art both as a surface, as in painting, and as the medium itself, as in origami. One chapter looks at the way paper has been used in packaging and consumer goods. There’s even a chapter to consider how paper has changed the way we think. There is a lot of information here – too much, I’m afraid. All topics are touched on lightly before the author flutters on to the next thought, leading to a book that ultimately dabbles in many things. It feels scattered and disorganized. I constantly found myself wanting more, and feeling frustrated because instead of details I was being pushed along to the next exhibit.

Paper: An Elegy was far too rambling for my tastes. Each chapter floated rather independently of the others. Yes, everything is themed around paper, but the subject by itself just didn’t seem strong enough to unify this into a whole book. The subject matter – rather ironically – would work better as a series of short posts on a paper-themed blog than as a unified book.

2.5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Paper: An Elegy, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Fashionista Piranha on vacation until June 9th…
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
2009: Discussion Question: What are YOU reading?


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